Stephen Bittel’s Terranova and the Secrets to Navigating Down-Business Cycles

At Terranova Corporation, a commercial real estate services and investment company headquartered in Coral Gables, Fla., the firm’s 41 years of success cannot be attributed to just luck. It has been the result of an arduous process of acquiring and developing properties, all while integrating new technology and taking on challenges never encountered before. If there’s a single trait that has helped Terranova Corporation’s growth, it is its adaptability. Since its inception, the company has employed new methods of service, including a consulting business model, to help the company remain profitable during economic downturns. Bittel’s wise outlook and frugality enabled the company to make strides and set itself apart from the competition during times when other businesses closed down or reduced their operations.

It also allowed the company to close on leases early, giving them more time to prepare for the next downturn, instead of scrambling to do so in an effort to survive. Since 1990, Terranova has acquired and repositioned more than $7 billion in retail, office, and industrial properties. Stephen Bittel said, “Our success can be attributed to the way we carefully consider every opportunity. We look at the present and the future. When the Great Recession was approaching in 2009, Bittel had been with the company for around 25 years. Looking back, he believes that most other real estate businesses around the country were not as well prepared for the economic downturn, which prompted him to take action to ensure that Terranova maneuvered.

“Many other real estate companies around the country did not have the kind of institutional knowledge we had,” says Bittel. “It was a big learning curve for us, but it was well worth the effort.” Stephen Bittel has been the president and chairman of Terranova Corporation since its inception. In fact, Terranova is named after the company’s first location in Coral Gables, Florida, and the name came to Bittel as a result of the company’s plans to expand into South Florida. As a young child, Bittel’s father was a founding partner of Forest City, which later became The Related Group. Bittel went on to own Forest City before merging with another leading South Florida developer, Greystar, to form Terranova Corporation.

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